Somadex and former employees
Lead NCPFrance
Supporting NCP(s)
DescriptionThis specific instance concerns a social conflict and the dismissal of 311 workers in Mali by a local subsidiary of the French Group Bouygues Construction (“Somadex”).
Theme(s)Employment and industrial relations, General policies
Date4 May 2015
Host country(ies)Mali
Industry sectorMining and quarrying
StatusNot accepted

Read the final statement issued by the French NCP - 13 June 2016  français

On 4 May 2015 the French NCP received a submission concerning a social conflict and the dismissal of 311 workers which took place in July 2005 in Mali by a local subsidiary of the French Group Bouygues Construction (“Somadex”). According to the submitters, the workers were dismissed in retaliation for striking. The submission was made by a group of 255 former Somadex workers represented by M. Yacouba Traore, who is also the Secretary General of a Trade Union of the mining sector in Mali (Fename).

The first version of the submission was not admissible. The NCP proposed to the submitters to redraft it before September 2015, which was done, and deemed admissible even though the submission was not densely documented. In February 2016 the NCP finished its initial assessment and concluded that the submission did not merit further examination. Prior to reaching this assessment, the NCP set up a dialogue with the submitters and with the enterprise, Bouygues Construction Group. The enterprise provided detailed responses regarding the submission to the NCP. The NCP also consulted the NGO Fédération International des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH) which had investigated this conflict as well as the Malian gold sector in 2007.

On 13 June 2016 the NCP published a final statement closing the specific instance after the initial assessment. Both parties were consulted in drafting the final statement.

In its decision, the NCP noted that during the incident in question, Somadex was confronted with a breakdown of social dialogue leading to a massive strike. This strike was afterwards recognised and judged illegal and dismissals for abandonment of post were judged legal. There is no evidence that this judgment was contested. Due to the seriousness of the social conflict, and the illegal actions of the workers, the enterprise and their social partners at the mine in question (Morila mine) could not maintain constructive negotiations, as recommended by the Guidelines.

The NCP also noted that while FIDH denounced the arrests and the detention of several workers engaged in the social conflict as a violation of human rights, the potential involvement of the enterprise in these incidents was not established. The NCP underlines that these actions were the responsibility of Malian authorities and that “due diligence” and “business relationship” were not concepts included in the Guidelines in 2005.

In its final statement the NCP includes a determination finding that Somadex did not violate the Guidelines (2000 version). The NCP also notes that currently the Bouygues Construction Group implements a code of ethics demonstrating lessons learnt from this incident and commits to social dialogue and vocational training for its staff notably in African regions.  The NCP recommended that the Bouygues Construction Group enrich its code of ethics by referencing the Guidelines, in particular, Chapter V which references ILO Declarations and conventions. It also recommends that the enterprise implement the recommendations of the OECD due diligence guidance for meaningful stakeholder engagement in the extractive sector in the context of its extractive operations.